Four Virginia Tech students will be representing the university at the 3rd annual Atlantic Coast Conference Meeting of the Minds at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.
At the conference, which will be held April 18 and 19, students from each college in the ACC will attend and present research projects in the arts, humanities, sciences and engineering.
The selection process for choosing the students who will represent Tech in the conference was highly competitive and twofold. Each college called for undergraduate research projects, and up to three research projects from each discipline were placed in front of the university review committee. From many applicants, only four were chosen to attend the conference.
The four Tech students chosen to attend the conference each represents a different university discipline: Lizzy Carraway of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Aaron Rudd of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Andrew Lucas of the College of Science and Tyler Haak of the College of Engineering.
For the conference, Carraway, a senior English major, expanded on research she had done for a paper in professor Fritz Oehlschlaeger's modern American literature class titled "Fitzgerald and Anderson on Lovers, Wives and Mothers."
"It started out as just an exploration into what the authors were saying about the modernist idea of the new woman through their characters," Carraway said. "I submitted it to the English department's undergraduate research conference and presented it there, and then I was contacted about expanding my research and sending it to a national conference."
However, having the English undergraduate conference under Carraway's belt didn't make expanding her research any easier.
"I found through expanding my research just how varied and controversial these characters were even within feminist scholarship," Carrway said. "So my paper has definitely evolved and changed over the past year to encompass a lot more than when I started out with just a literary analysis."
Andrew Lucas, a junior biology and chemistry double major, found his way into the Meeting of the Minds by spending most of his time working in a Derring lab. Since the spring of 2006, Lucas has been studying protein ligand interactions and protein stability.
"I'm pretty much always in the lab," Lucas said. "What I've been studying is what happens when a ligand, a small molecule, binds to a protein. We think that when that happens, it starts to degrade."
Lucas said that his time spent in the lab hasn't been the most difficult aspect of his research; rather, it's been keeping his research a secret.
"It's sometimes hard to talk about because you don't want other people to overhear or read something that you've done and then take all of the credit before it's been published," Lucas said.
While some of the students had been working on their research for months, Tyler Haak's journey to the Meeting of the Minds Conference has been a bit different.
Haak, a junior civil engineering major, along with 15 other students from universities across the country, was accepted into a National Science Foundation summer program during the summer of 2007 in Dalian, China. at the Dalian University of Technology.
"I had no idea what I was going to be doing research on until I got there," Haak said. "But when I got there, I was paired with a Chinese graduate student from the university there, and he helped to guide me along."
While in China, Haak conducted his research on offshore oil platforms in the bay outside Dalian.